Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Trinity as Football: Now THAT'S Collaboration!

The Concord Pastor (aka Fr. Austin Fleming) posts a video with a great view of the famous recent college football game between Trinity University and Millsaps. Down by two with two seconds left on the clock and 60 yards to go for a touchdown, Trinity University performed a miracle--15 lateral passes in 62 seconds to give them the win. (At the risk of showing my ignorance, a lateral is when a person tosses the football to a teammate, but he can only throw it backwards, or upfield, to him...yes?)

Now I'm not a huge football fanatic (sorry, Mary P-H), but I absolutely love watching great plays.

Then I thought, hey! This play! It's Trinity! I mean, really, as in The Trinity. Seven of the 11 Trinity team members handled the football during that play. They collaborated and cooperated with each other to perform this miracle play. (Read the entire list of players who made this play happen and how they did it.)

We say the Trinity is One (CCC #253). "We do not confess three Gods but one God in three persons."

We say the divine persons of the Trinity are really distinct from one another (CCC #254). The Trinity is One, but the persons are distinct. They aren't different modes of the One God. They are distinct persons, the Son distinct from the Father, and the Spirit bonding them together.

And we say the divine persons of the Trinity are relative to one another (CCC #255). The Trinity is One yet distinct only because they are in relationship. The Trinity acts as one because of their relationship, and outside of this interdependence, there can be no Trinity.

The parallel isn't perfect, and I don't mean to say the Most Holy Trinity is like a football team. But I think we can learn something of the mystery of the Trinity from this amazing sports moment. There was creativity, movement, and dance in this play. Each team member relied on the other, yet in his moment of carrying and throwing the ball, each player was the team. And only by their collaborative, mind-as-one relationship were they able to accomplish something miraculous.

But most importantly--and the reason I think the Trinity matters in our life--is that in witnessing this play, we become a part of it. It doesn't matter that I don't know the intricacies of football or even who the teams are. I was swept up into the amazingness of this moment. In those 62 seconds, I became a fan, the 12th team member. When we experience the amazing union--the deep love--between the Father and the Son joined by the Spirit, we can't help but be caught up in that love as well, pulled into the dance of a great "play." When that happens, our very lives become a reflection of that oneness, that unity, that joy, that love.

And here's why this matters to liturgists. It's in the liturgy that we encounter most fully that intimacy and love of the Trinity. If we can do all we can to prepare liturgies that pull people into that Trinitarian love, into the same kind of excitement and wonder all those fans at that stadium witnessed, we will have helped to prepare liturgies that lead to conversion (yet another football term!).

Okay, okay, I hear all you hard-core theologians and liturgists groaning at the metaphor, and I've taken this simile too far already. Don't take the comparison too seriously. I just thought it was a great, fun football play. :)

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